The shooting of eighteen-year-old Michael Brown and the unrest that followed in Ferguson and the surrounding communities have made national headlines, and have caught the attention of a number of celebrities. But rapper Young Jeezy is one of the few to visit Ferguson and see it all for himself.
In St. Louis on August 12 to perform during Wiz Khalifa's Under the Influence of Music tour at Verizon Wireless Amphitheater, Jeezy used his time in the Gateway City to chat with Hot 104.1 FM and explore Ferguson, witnessing how Brown's death has had such a profound effect on the region.
"These are kids. These are human beings," Jeezy said during the Hot 104.1 broadcast. "This is somebody's baby, this is somebody's grandson, this is somebody's uncle, brother, cousin.... There has to be justice."
"Jeezy was one of the first musicians to acknowledge the horrific death of Mike Brown via Twitter late Saturday night," Hot 104.1 FM DJ A-Plus tells RFT Music. "He was aware of the situation before what took place on Sunday evening.
"Right away, I knew this wasn't Jeezy chiming in on what was emerging as a national story just to say he did it," continues A-Plus, whose given name is Arthur Willis. "The amount of sincerity and compassion in what he tweeted showed that he was emotionally invested in what's going on, not to mention Jeezy has a history of speaking out on past tragic events and doing community work for the people, not for the cameras."
Here's one of the things Jeezy tweeted on August 9, the day Brown -- also known as "Mike Mike" -- was shot:
Michael "mike mike" brown my he rest in peace. This gotta stop! Shooting unarmed children. What happen to protecting and serving?— SnowGo (@YoungJeezy) August 10, 2014
A-Plus welcomed Jeezy to his Hot 104.1 show Durrty Boyz Radio on Tuesday to talk about how local authorities are handling the case and how Ferguson and the St. Louis region as a whole might turn Brown's death into something more positive.
"Jeezy's always been stoic in conversation; he's not the guy to give you a wide range of emotions in interviews like Kanye would. That's not his style," A-Plus says of his time with the rapper. "But he really seemed bothered by what happened to Mike Mike. Before yesterday, the toughest thing I've ever asked him about related to issues with other rappers -- something that pales in comparison to what took place in Ferguson on Saturday -- so I have to say that's the most emotional I've ever seen Jeezy during an interview."
Later, Jeezy went to the QT gas station in Ferguson, which rioters had burned earlier in the week. Chatting with A-Plus, Jeezy had condemned the destruction. "We don't have to be violent. We just have to stand there and make our presence known. That's where we should be, not looting our neighborhoods, tearing apart our city," Jeezy said on-air.
"While being involved in the community is nothing new for him, it's always refreshing to see someone step up in the manner that he did," A-Plus says. "Visiting the burned-out QT in Ferguson was just another genuine gesture from him."
Tuesday evening Jeezy joined Wiz Khalifa, DJ Drama and others for a megashow at Verizon Wireless Amphitheater, during which the performers sported "R.I.P. Michael Brown" shirts and called for justice and peace. While rumors persisted throughout the day that the concert would be the site of a riot, the show and the music instead proved to be a bit of a healing force.
"It was a much-needed celebration of peace and prosperity. At the very least, it was an opportunity to give ourselves a break from the negative images currently plastered all over local news," A-Plus says. "As history has shown us, music served as the soundtrack to soothe our souls in times just like these. It won't be the only thing to heal our city -- that takes real work from our leaders and our judicial system doing what's right -- but it sure can help."
A-Plus tells RFT Music that listeners' reactions to Jeezy's embrace of Ferguson have been positive.
"We as fans love when our favorite artists show that they care about what's happening in the real world," A-Plus says. "There's a countless amount of entertainers -- and people in general -- that are jaded and block out issues that don't directly affect them on a daily basis. So when Jeezy does the exact opposite, the outpouring of support from my listeners hasn't stopped since we've aired it."